Ellen G. White Writings

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Historical Sketches of the Foreign Missions of the Seventh-day Adventists, Page 239

The Waldenses

Our visit to the Waldensian Valleys was one of special interest on account of the close connection which this locality has with the history of the people of God in past ages. It was in the friendly shelter of the surrounding rocky peaks that they found protection when the fierce persecutions of the Roman church drove them from the fertile plains of Northern Italy. In these plains they had succeeded in maintaining their independence of Rome many years after others had yielded to her power. Indeed, up to the eleventh century, the diocese of Milan is said to have greatly exceeded in extent that of Rome. But the very fact that her authority was disregarded on what might be called her own territory, was very humiliating to a power to whom all the world was then bowing down; and, after repeated unsuccessful attempts to induce the bishops of Milan to yield their independence, they were finally forced to submit.

The submission, however, was by no means universal. Many refused to yield their rights, and fled, some to one country, some to another, while many retired to the Piedmontese Alps. “Behind this rampart of mountains, which Providence, foreseeing the approach of evil days, would seem to have reared on purpose, did this remnant of the early apostolic church of Italy kindle their lamp, and here did that lamp continue to burn all through the long night which descended upon Christendom.”

Every rock upon which we gazed seemed to speak in solemn silence of the wonderful scenes it had witnessed. One place of interest which we visited, was a spot just back of the town of Bobbio, seven miles up the valley from Torre Pellice. We had a beautiful day for our trip. The air was clear, the sky as blue as only an Italian sky can be. Our party numbered seven besides the two drivers. The ride was delightful. After going as far as the carriages could carry us, we took our blankets and lunch-baskets, and prepared to ascend the mountain.

By a zigzag course our path made its way up the hillside, sometimes winding in and out among the rocks that line the banks of a mountain brook, sometimes crossing a little patch of grain which was supported by a great stone wall and thus kept from being washed down the mountain side, sometimes following along the very edge of these great walls which hold in place the mountain terraces, on which are small vineyards, pasture lands, and grain fields; then it would turn suddenly and ascend by rocky steps to the heights above. Now and then we would stop to rest, or to allow to pass us a solemn-looking flock of sheep and goats which some little girl or boy was driving to the small patches of pasture land above.

A climb of three-quarters of an hour brought us to a large open plat of ground. Here we halted, and under the friendly shade of a huge chestnut-tree spread our lunch. A few rods from us was a large house, built of stone, and plastered on the outside. Although about eight hundred years old, it was still occupied. Here it was that many of the Waldenses found shelter when driven by their persecutors from the valley below; but spies soon found them here, and soldiers were sent to exterminate them. The battle was fought on the very spot where we were seated. Although the Waldenses were few in number, they held their ground for some time, and then, attempting to escape, most of them were brutally massacred.

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